VILNIUS – Russian President Vladimir Putin "has crossed yet another red line" by annexing Ukraine's territories and has buried any hope of a peaceful settlement of the conflict, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda says.
In his words, for more than eight years now, "we have been witnessing Russia’s criminal actions against Ukraine. For over six months, Russia has been waging open, large-scale military aggression, which has already claimed tens of thousands of lives".
"Today, Russia has once again flagrantly violated international law and has buried hope for a peaceful settlement of the conflict. Today, Putin’s increasingly desperate regime has crossed yet another red line. The announced decision to annex the Ukrainian regions of Kherson, Donetsk, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia is illegal and void," Nauseda said in a statement released on Friday, adding that Lithuania "will never, under any circumstances, recognize the sham “referenda” in the occupied regions nor their results", sust as it does not recognize the earlier annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.
"Crimea, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk are Ukraine!" the president underlined.
Nauseda also said that "sooner or later, Russia will have to pay the price".
"It will have to answer for Bucha, Irpin and Izium. For the massacre of fleeing civilians in Kramatorsk and for the recent bloody attack on the humanitarian convoy in Zaporizhzhia. Also, for nuclear and energy blackmail," the president said and underlined that Ukraine will never forget these crimes.
"And neither will we, Lithuanians. We must clearly understand that the fate of our country is being decided today in Ukraine. The fate of the whole of Europe is being decided in Ukraine. If we do not stop the aggressor now, we will risk losing everything that we have created in over three decades of everyday hard work," Nauseda said.
In his words, Lithuanian will continue to provide economic, military, social, and financial support to Ukraine "until its final victory", and "we will continue to push for the strongest possible international sanctions against Russia".
"This is the least we can do. In this dark hour, which always comes before dawn, we firmly know that Ukraine’s fight for freedom is our fight, and we will win it," the Lithuanian leader said.
Earlier in the day, Russian President Vladimir Putin and four Moscow-imposed leaders of these occupied regions signed treaties on the "region's admission to Russia", despite the condemnation of the international community.
The move has already been condemned by Western leader, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky who is calling an emergency meeting of the country's National Security and Defense Council on Friday.